Jason Priest

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Jason Priest
Member of the Montana Senate
from the 30th district
In office
2011 - 2015
Personal details
Born July 17, 1968 (44)
Red Lodge, Montana
Political party Republican
Residence Red Lodge, Montana
Alma mater Williams College
Occupation Politician, Corporate Executive

Jason Priest is a member of the Republican Party. He was elected to one term in the Montana Legislature, Senate District 30, in 2010 representing Red Lodge, Montana. He is a member of the National Rifle Association; pro-life and resides in Red Lodge, Montana.[1]].[1][2]

Priest was raised in Red Lodge, Montana. He attended Red Lodge Public Schools and Aspen Country Day School in Aspen, Colorado. He attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Economy.

Priest is currently the owner of Academy of Nail, Skin and Hair in Billings, Montana and Optimal Auctions of Round Rock, Texas and holds executive titles with New Rock Telecom Ventures and Hamilton Venture Holdings. His previous positions include CEO of Medipent LLC; Chief Operating Officer and Founder at Dash.com; Director at MaxLink; President at US WaveLink; and Vice President of Finance at Islands Restaurants.[3]

During the 63rd Session of the Montana Legislature, Senator Priest's legislative outline confirmed pimary sponsorship of legislature including SB97 & SB98 "Revise Redistricting Laws to Reduce the Number of House and Senate Seats", SB75 "Allow Donation of Hunting Licenses for Disabled Veterans", SB385 "Reduce Sales Tax Rates and Redistribute Proceeds to Provide Funding For Tourism" and a number of bills confirming the Montana Governor's appointees to health related boards.[4]

Finance and donations[edit]

Senator Priest is the Founder of Montana Growth Network, a 501c4 political lobbying organization in Montana. It is funded by confidential individual and corporate donors. In 2013, Mr. Priest came under scrutiny for potentially receiving donations from out-of-state and undisclosed individuals and corporations. He refused to disclose his donor base stating his right to do so under 501c4 laws protecting the organization based in Red Lodge, Montana. His organization's activity has led to the "Dark Money" scandal overshadowing 2013 politics in the state of Montana. As reported in the Independent Record, Missoulian and by Michael Beckel/Political Integrity, Senator Priest financed a radio ad and a three piece printed mailer http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/05/16/12656/judicial-candidate-blames-mystery-nonprofits-attacks-defeat sent to voters supporting his own selection, and that of his Board of Directors, of a 2012 Montana Supreme Court Judge candidate that contained misleading editorial content and was not appropriately registered with the Montana Commissioner on Political Practices.[5][6]

As a Republican State Senator, Mr. Priest, through his business stimulus non-profit, Montana Growth Network, spent more money on a non-partisan election to assist the election of a Montana Supreme Court Judge than the candidate herself had raised for her own election campaign programs. A number of formal complaints were filed with the State of Montana prompting residing Governor Steve Bullock and other elected Montana Senators, representatives and state election officials to address the issue of election campaign contribution reform, donor transparency and contribution limits. Both Republicans and Democrats raised concerns about Montana Growth Network's activity.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

Secret conservative Republicans[edit]

Emails obtained and published by the Great Falls Tribune in January 2013 confirmed Jason Priest was part of a secretive effort by "conservative" Republicans in the Montana legislature to quash bills by "more moderate" Republicans. Emails were released by an unnamed source. Senator Priest, along with a short list of Republican Senators, targeted specific fellow Republicans as those to work against during the 2013 Montana Legislative Session. The efforts resulted in political and legislative gridlock with a "crossover coalition" of Republicans defeating key bills the Carbon County, Montana Senator was in support of.[11][12]

Arrest and conviction[edit]

In February 2014, Priest was arrested in Red Lodge on initial charges of felonious partner/family member assaults, assault and resisting arrest. On December 2, 2014, Priest pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of assaulting his four-year-old daughter, his wife, a third party and a fourth charge for resisting arrest.

According to court documents, Anna Priest arrived at the home and the officer witnessed Jason Priest call her a derogatory term several times. Jonathan Trapp, Anna Priest's boyfriend, approached the front gate of the house when Priest allegedly charged at him and knocked Trapp to the ground. The officer ordered Priest to stop but he continued to punch Trapp as he was lying on the ground in a fetal position. The officer told state prosecutors he struggled to get Priest off of Trapp, and Priest was in a "blind range." After Priest was detained, the officer discovered the three children, ages 9, 7, and 4, crying by the front window.[13]

During the incident, Priest's four-year-old daughter suffered a head injury, Jonathan Trapp received lacerations and a broken rib and a struggle ensued with the arresting officer.

After Priest's initial court appearance, additional charges, including felony assault on a minor, were filed. In an alleged altercation arising from a divorce and custody case, Priest injured his four-year-old daughter by throwing her through a doorway, attacked his wife, seriously damaged her boyfriend and physically resisted arrest[13][14] In December 2014, Priest pleaded guilty to domestic assault of his minor child, domestic assault of his wife, assault and resisting arrest. He was fined and received concurrent sentences from the court.[15]

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